Splitter's return bodes well for Samardzija

Splitter's return bodes well for Samardzija

ANAHEIM -- Jeff Samardzija added a little something to remember Wednesday night at Angel Stadium into a very forgettable month of August for the veteran right-hander.

Yes, he suffered the loss in a 1-0 White Sox setback to the Angels, dropping Chicago to 55-63 overall and out of shouting distance in the American League playoff picture. But this loss wasn't like his previous three, when Samardzija allowed 22 earned runs over 15 1/3 innings.

This effort was about one fastball that got too much of the plate to Carlos Perez, who homered on a 2-0 hitter's count in the sixth inning. Otherwise Samardzija battled out of trouble for seven quality innings and 117 pitches. Tyler Flowers caught Samardzija for the first time since Opening Day, but Samardzija's success was more about having his splitter work throughout the night.

Perez's solo homer

"I had my splitter tonight, which has been the biggest issue for me in the past," said Samardzija, who struck out seven and walked two. "The last two games, it has been there for me.

"The Cubs game [on Friday] didn't turn out like how I wanted to, but I thought I pitched pretty well. I just gave up a couple of homers that got me. My splitter was there tonight. I made them have to think about it throughout the at-bat."

Samardzija also avoided the big inning, or to be more precise, avoided letting a few infield hits or bloopers turn into a sudden White Sox deficit. A prime example came in the second, when C.J. Cron and Erick Aybar singled, followed by David DeJesus being hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.

But Samardzija retired Perez on an infield popup, struck out Kaleb Cowart and set down Johnny Giavotella on a long fly ball hauled in by center fielder Adam Eaton. There were times when Samardzija bent, allowing eight hits, but he never really broke.

Eaton's running catch

"For me, it's about calming down and working my way through situations instead of pressing and trying to do too much," Samardzija said. "It usually means your front side flies open and the ball stays over the plate. I thought that was the biggest difference. I stayed under control and kept pitches down in the zone. I feel like my stuff has been exactly the same."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.